HBO is the acronym a certain cable network uses to signify Home Box Office. But half the time it might be more apt to simply leave out the “B” and call it the HO Network. It seems as if they always have at least one series dedicated to the sex biz.
First, ya had “The Point” about all the street action in the Bronx. And then there was Denis Hof’s “Cathouse. ” Finally…that other show about grimy strippers whose name eludes me at the moment. Maybe we should call HBO the AAH Network? Ya know…All About Ho’s!
Ok! Enough of that stupidity. The new entry in HBO’s Ho Entertainment Network (HEN if you will) is a change of pace titled “THE DEUCE” which if you aren’t aware, was the nickname for Times Square many years ago. Having exited from New Orleans in favor of New York City’s bright lights in 1972, I’m certainly familiar with life in the Big Apple during the era depicted in the aforementioned new series. And I can tell you that the “look” of the presentation is fastidiously authentic. Up at 164th and Amsterdam, the production crew recreated 42nd Street as it existed 46 years ago. All of which is to the show’s credit.
Equally appealing is its star JAMES FRANCO (who plays a bartender) and to some extent MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL (a street hooker without a pimp). The portrayal of “the life” (as I know it) also appears to be accurate to some degree. But somehow, despite all the rave reviews (at least according to the network itself), there’s something about “The Deuce” that just doesn’t get me fully erect (pardon the metaphor). And I don’t think it’s my age.
Maybe I’m just too jaded. Or maybe I get nauseated at the thought of mainstream America’s morbid fascination with sex work and its practitioners. But all this junk on HBO about the pay for play biz is exactly that: Junk. With the sole exception of the film “Hustle and Flow” (which wasn’t an HBO production), mainstream media’s representation of the life all feel like vapid and boring exploitation fluff.
Still, I have to applaud not just the set…but two actors who submitted to doing nude scenes in which their bodies were revealed to be less than what society would view as attractive. If I had to show some not-too-pretty private parts as an actor, I’m not sure I wouldn’t pass on the role. But that didn’t seem to stop a couple of the cast members. Now that’s dedication to your craft!
All things considered, I’ve decided that I will watch this series as it unfolds. But that’s more a reflection on my state of retirement than anything else. With not a lot to do, I’m in constant search of entertainment. And it seems like I can dedicate an hour each week to dial back the time machine and relive my relative youth. Who knows? Maybe it will get better. But I have a sneaking feeling I’ve seen about all the show has to offer. I’ll just have to find my full erections elsewhere.